Three tips to build a support system and fight isolation.
Whether it’s the grief of struggling with watching kids over summer break or in school or just the stigma and financial problems that come with being single in the workforce, it can’t be denied that there are still significant additional issues when it comes to single working women. Every day, the stresses, demands and need for appreciation of single working women – many of them mothers – is thrown into sharp relief. One local therapist has some insight into what these women go through, and how they can cope.
“While it’s true that times have progressed, the fact is that of the more than 12 million single-parent families in the country, 80 percent of them are still headed by the mothers,” said Anne Causey, a professional licensed therapist who provides counseling services to residents all throughout the Houston Metro area. “And even for those single working women without children, there is still an abundance of additional stresses and worries that others who aren’t in that demographic don’t have to contend with as much.”
Jonie, a single mother of two, finds the end of the work day to be the most hectic time in her schedule. “Rushing to pick the kids up from daycare, and then coming home to homework, supper, dishes and bedtime rituals leaves me exhausted. Most of the time, the only energy I have left is spent crawling into bed,” she said.
Brenda, a single female who works in the corporate world as a high-powered executive, also feels the strain. “As a woman, I have to work harder and longer just to be seen as equal to the men in my firm,” she said. “I get to work early and I stay late, which doesn’t leave many hours left to do much else.”
Just like in Brenda and Jonie’s case, it can be hard in today’s overworked and stress-riddled society not only to take the time for oneself, but to find the time to form connections with others. “Isolation can be very traumatic for anyone,” said Causey. She encourages everyone to make the time to build relationships, but especially understands the struggles single working women can have juggling their time. “One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to have a solid support system and trustworthy friends that really recognize your value.”
It wasn’t until Brenda went out of her comfort zone and attended a local hobby club, that she met Jonie and realized what had been missing in her life. “Once I got out there, I found some great friends, and I realized I wasn’t alone,” she said. “I started doing something that I love while building these new relationships at the same time. The personal benefits have even helped my work life; my office productivity keeps improving while at the same time I am working fewer hours.”
Causey has three tips for single working women on how they can build a strong support system and fight isolation:
- Feed your spirit – Find something you love doing, whether it is joining the church group that meets on Wednesday, taking painting class at the local artist shop once a month, or volunteering at your child’s school. “When you are doing something that brings you joy, your heart opens not only to yourself, but to others,” said Causey.
- Learn to be a better communicator – The consequences of poor communication can be disastrous, frequently ending with wasted time, hurt feelings and misunderstandings. Communication is a two-way street, though. “Our society has lost the art of being responsive,” Causey warned. “In conversations, we find ourselves only waiting until we can speak again instead of actually listening to what the other person is telling us.”
- Build connections with people who enjoy you – “Everyone is unique and has something to offer the world,” said Causey. “Surround yourself with people who support and value everything about you.” Shared interests, like-minded peers and positive atmospheres are essential in encouraging people to break their cycle of isolation and open the lines of communication and contact.
Anne Causey, M.A., LPC, is a licensed professional therapist based in The Woodlands who provides a safe and warm environment for individuals, couples and families to address areas of challenge or crisis in their lives. For more information concerning therapies for a host of mental and emotional conditions, call her at 832 492 5068.